sensual, social, intellectual, and stimulating...
is a pleasant stimulant to four of our five basic senses, as well
as to the human spirit. Wine has a nearly limitless variety of flavors.
Due to its origin as a product of soil, geography, climate and vintage
conditions, grape variety, production technology and aging regimen,
it offers more variations and possibilities for sensual appeal than
possibly any other stimulus.
INTELLECTUAL, UNIVERSAL AND COMMERCIAL
Wine is also stimulating to the intellect, since a true understanding
of wine and its various aspects involves many areas for study. Although
most of the literature about wine has historically come from the wealthy
and educated, even the poor and illiterate partake of wine's pleasures;
therefore, it is a democratic beverage. The grapevine flourishes in
most of the temperate climates of the world and has been cultivated
since before the earliest historical records. Wine has a broad commercial
scope, involving one of every ten persons on earth in one or more
facets, from farming, to production, to distribution, to regulation.
Composed of roughly 85% water, 12% ethyl alcohol, a touch of tartaric,
malic and several other acids, wine also contains various sugars and
carbohydrates, less common alcohols, aromatic aldehydes, ketones,
phenolics, enzymes, pigments, many vitamins, some minerals and other
substances yet to be identified. There are in all, over 300 separate
ingredients identified in wine so far, more than half of them discovered
since 1956, when modern chemistry techniques began to improve.
Most of these elements lend complexity
to wine flavors with nearly insignificant nutritional impact, either
positively or negatively, on the diet, other than to assist in digestion.
There are, however, compounds in wine, specifically catechins, flavonoids,
resveratrol and quercetin, which have either prophylactic effects
against human diseases or preservative effects on the human body itself
(see Wine and Health).
While wine does not contain any fat
or cholesterol, it does contain calories from carbohydrates. The actual
caloric content, therefore, of any wine depends entirely on its levels
of both sugar and alcohol. Each six-ounce glass of dry (12.5% alcohol)
wine measures about 150 calories, which is about the same as a pint
of beer. A stronger, sweeter wine such as Port (20% alcohol) may pack
the same calorie count in a much smaller three-ounce serving.
WINE AND FOOD
The chemical composition of wine makes it a natural accompaniment
to many foods, since the mild acidity of wine contrasts with the oily
or fatty content of some foods. On the other hand, the carbohydrates,
sugars and alcohols in wine tend to complement these elements in other
foods. Wine and food may each taste good alone, but the end result
of this contrasting and complementing is that most wines and foods
taste especially good together.
As with all beverages that contain ethanol, wine is a psychotropic
drug. The effects or response vary by individual metabolism and quantity
consumed and are somewhat variable, but begin with relaxation and
stimulation. This can be positive for the individual and also promote
social interaction. It is deceptively easy, however, to indulge beyond
the safe measure.
As the quantity of alcohol in the blood
increases, its toxic effects become more pronounced. What began as
relaxation may become loss of motor control or, in the most extreme
and sustained situations, loss of conscious, or death. Initial stimulation can proceed
to aggravation or aggression. Drinking any alcohol until drunk is
unhealthy for mind and body and a foolish and lazy way to attempt
entertainment. Drunkenness can be both painful to the drunk and dangerous
to the bystander.
Regardless of age, weight, gender,
type or quantity of food accompaniment, or any other mythical reference
point or supposed buffer, a six to eight ounce portion of table
wine within a four-hour period is the proper serving to avoid overindulgence.
The best way to prevent consuming too
much is to consume slowly and to be certain to always accompany
with plenty of available water. Moderation is the watchword in
order to include wine as part of a healthful lifestyle. In fact, self-discipline may be the most important skill an individual can learn and practice in order to extend life and its pleasures. (see Wine
Professor Andrew Waterhouse's Natural
Products of Wine students created this
site as a class project at the University of California at Davis. It
covers a wide range of chemical properties and considerations of wine,
from effects on human health, to wine spoilage, to wine aging.
and Traditions, an article on the French
site alcoweb.com, has some interesting observations about the socioeconomic
effects of wine and other beverages containing ethanol on (primarily
Using body weight, percentage of beverage
alcohol, number of ounces consumed, and time spent to consuming, there
is a Blood
Alcohol Calculator that can tell when to give up the keys, although
it's doubtful this is useful when most needed.